View Full Version : tonal range of Ilfochrome

14-Mar-2007, 18:30
I made e quick search on the web regarding the actual tonal range of Ilfochrome paper.

So far I have found that that there are three contrast grades of Ilfochrome paper around , If I' not wrong.

Someone said that RA-4 photographic paper is the great equalizer, capturing only about 5 stops and Ilfochrome has even shorter range though at around 3 stops.

Fuji Crystal Archive Paper could be another choice to use the color paper in Camera?
I had experience only with B/N paper negative in camera (Agfa and Ilford)

Any tips would be great, thanks.

Doug Herta
14-Mar-2007, 22:18
While there are a few contrast grades of Ilfochrome available, I have found that certain sizes are getting more difficult to obtain. The Ilfochome paper that I have had sucess with in procuring and using lately is the CL M.1K (Medium Contrast Super Glossy). I plan on standardizing on that and continue to do masking to control contrast. Sometimes a transparency "works" with Ilfochrome and sometimes it doesn't. The limitations of this medium in terms of tonal range and optimizing your results is described in Ctein's book "Post Exposure". If you plan on doing ANY color work, I highly suggest this book.

If you are going the in-camera route, there is a bit of info in various alternate process books. The best resource I have on the Ilfochrome process itself is the (sadly out of print) Complete Guide to Cibachrome Printing ISBN 0-89586-176-3. There are still copies out there in the used market.

Hope this helps - I am a HUGE fan of Ilfochrome printing and plan on sticking with it for as long as the materials are available and my pocketbook can afford it ($$$).

bob carnie
15-Mar-2007, 06:03
Hi Doug

How complex are you making your masks?
Are you using a highlight seperation mask in register with the transparacey when making your main mask. If so I would suggest that you try the CPS material rather than the CLMK.
I use PS and a lambda printer to control the contrast when making cibachromes, and I have found that the CPS material is the *Richest* of emulsions for this product and if I am not mistaken it is the original formula.
Since you are masking , you are able to control the paper much better than unmasked film. The Clmk and the Cfk were introduced in the mid 90's simply because artists and clients would prefer not to go to the added complexitys of maskmaking and as well not willing to pay people like myself to make the masks that are needed to balance the original material.
These two emulsions were of lower contrast and did the trick for me for years and I stopped maskmaking altogether except for specific clients who would pay to have complicated and time consuming masks prepared for their originals.
When I switched to the lambda platform and was forced to buy the CPS in large rolls I was amazed at the difference in print quality the CPS would afford me using PS to control the contrast of the image.
I believe that if you are maskmaking you have all the same controls and should give the CPS a try.

Doug Herta
15-Mar-2007, 09:17
Hi Bob

Thanks for the input. I have a freezer full of CLMK due to the Ilfochrome reorganization scariness of a couple of years ago, which required snapping up what was in the supplier pipeline. I standardized on it and have made the additional exposure adjustments that the P3.5 kit seems to require (did you run into that?).

I am glad you mentioned CPS. I am at a crossroads right now with deciding what to do with standardizing my materials: you point out some really good considerations for working with that material.

As for masking, I am at the stage of "saving" an important shot rather than enhancement. My subject matter has been pretty contrasty so it tames it a bit. I use the Condit punch and frame to create a highlight mask in register with the transparency. I have read enough to realize how complex making different kinds of masks can be.

Bob - I am interested in hearing more about your workflow. As a hobbyist who will probably remain in the wet darkroom, I am still interested in the hybrid processing that goes into mixing digital and analog processing.

bob carnie
15-Mar-2007, 10:44
Hi Doug

The highlight mask is critical and glad to hear you are making this in your workflow.

My workflow is pretty simple, from digital capture or scan I work in PS to colour correct , colour enhance and contrast and density.
The Lambda is red,green blue laser exopsing device and is in a Unix Language that I would not be able to understand in a lifetime.
We Print directly onto 30 inch CPS roll stock at 400ppi, then process it in a cibachrome processor.
All major enhancments corrections ect. are done after the first test which is run at a calibrated setting *21step greyscale*.
Most corrections are then done on the lambda, I have 2 stop up and down and unlimited colour correction , basically the same idea as what I use to do on my colour enlarger.
If I want to make contrast adjustments I would this on the Lambda as we can set up any number of curves to apply to the image.
If I want to isolate a colour and change it within the image I would do so back at the PS station and then send the file back over ontop of the existing information on the Lambda and retest.

I find this device liberating and very wonderful to work with. * everything that I do could be done with masks but the speed of which changes can be made is what is exciting for me.
Every month it seems I am learning more tricks on the digital platform and the learning curve is extremely steep but I believe it is worth the time for my labs long term survival.

Donald Miller over on APUG seems to be a whiz at making masks and if you have not been in touch with him , he really seems to know his stuff and has been very willing to share info.

Good luck and give the CPS a try sometime, * I believe that this product at least will survive as long as the few labs using Ciba continue. I am not so sure how cut sheet Clmk and cut sheet Cfk will fare in the future.

Doug Herta
16-Mar-2007, 20:57
Bob - Your cut sheet observations are right on. The pipeline may be drying up. I inquired about the CPS and plan on getting some and running some masked work past it for a comparison.

I have looked through Donald Miller's observations about masking and actually got the Condit punch and contact frame from a member of LF Forum/APUG.

I am chained to a Unix box during my "real" job so I plan on continuing with a manual process as a leisure activity AWAY from computers, but I understand your reasons for pursuing it as a business interest. The masking process that has evolved is a mix between what I have learned from the Ilfochrome Masking Guide, Donald and other's posts, and the instructions in the Ctein book cited above.

Thanks for your response Bob.